Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Melancholy Meditations on... Things

What is true patience?

We talk about patience all the time... we know that "Allah is with the patient," and so on... butwhat does it MEAN?

I guess I know some of the lesser aspects of patience... biting one's tongue, not whining and complaining all the time, enduring inconveniences in silence...

But surely that can't be what is truly meant by patience! So...what is true patience? Does it mean to endure in silence, hoping that God will get you out of your situation? Does it mean to simply accept it as God's Will and get on with life as much as possible? Does it meaning banishing all feelings of anger, resentfulness, and misery from one's heart? Or is it all three?

How do we attain such a state of being? Especially those of us who have a tendency to wake up feeling motivated, yet lose that feeling within the space of an hour or two...

...

What does it mean when someone achieves spiritual heights?

When one achieves such things as true patience and true taqwah, does it mean letting go of human emotions - joy, excitement, sorrow, anger, impatience, disappointment, and the like - and replacing them with an almost otherworldy contentedness, entering a state of serenity and tranquilness almost impossible to disturb? Is it possible to either alternate between or simply balance the two?

In the example of our Prophet Muhammad (sallaallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) we have the best example... yet there is no doubt that we could ever achieve what our noble Nabi achieved.

And so the question remains... how do we do it?

9 comments:

Travelling Stranger said...

It's something easily said and talked about, and very hard to do once the calamity has fallen.

Safa said...

come read my post called Hold firm.....you'll like it. I haven't seen you around much....

iMuslim said...

Salaams sis,

I've visited your site a few times since you posted this entry, in hope that someone may have written an inspirational reply, worthy of the question(s). It seems your regular readers are as flummoxed as i am.

I often wonder what the true meaning of patience is too.

There is a narration that says something like: Allah pours patience onto those who display patience. In biology, that would be called positive feedback!

It reminds me of the aayah that you quoted in the title of your last entry, that Allah will not change our condition until we make changes in our own lives. And also, of the hadith Qudsi in which Allah says: "He who draws close to Me a hand's span, I will draw close to him an arm's length. And whoever draws near Me an arm's length, I will draw near him a fathom's length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running...".

In effect, we have to be the ones to get the ball rolling, as it were. We are encouraged to display as much patience as we can muster. If it is solely for the sake of Allah, then it is guaranteed that He will take over and increase our efforts.

That does not answer the question, "what is patience?", but it does suggest that even the display of some 'lesser' form of patience will naturally lead to the 'greater' form of patience, that we seek to define.

"When one achieves such things as true patience and true taqwah, does it mean letting go of human emotions - joy, excitement, sorrow, anger, impatience, disappointment, and the like - and replacing them with an almost otherworldy contentedness, entering a state of serenity and tranquilness almost impossible to disturb? Is it possible to either alternate between or simply balance the two?"

If we look at the life of our beloved Rasool (sallalahu 'alayhi wa salam), we see that he displayed all kinds of emotion; he was human, after all. However, he always practised moderation - he never lost his composure. When he became angry, his face would become red and he would remain silent; he never swore or screamed at his companions. His happiness and amusement was expressed as a smile, not stomach-clasping guffaws. He expressed love for his wives, both verbally and physically, yet he was as gentle as the breeze, and more shy than a virgin. All this so as to prevent his blessed tongue uttering anything which His Lord would not be pleased with. All his actions, including his emotions, were for the sake of Allah. May Allah grant him and his family peace and blessings.

I know for sure that the majority of my sins are caused by a quick tongue. If i attempted to practise the self-control exemplified by the Prophet (sallalahu 'alayhi wa salam), then 99% of my troubles would be over! His self-control was rooted in his continuous remembrance of Allah.

It's an obvious and cliched answer, but remembrance of Allah, in all the many forms it exists, is the key to character reformation.

Something which i was trying to work on, but then forgot, and now have remembered (so thanks for that!), is memorising the glorious names and attributes of Allah. It is a great way to remember Allah, especially when making dua. E.g., Oh Allah, You are Al-Ghaffur, Ar-Raheem, so please forgive me; You are Ar-Razzak, so please increase me in my sustenance; You are Al-Khaliq, Al-Baari, Al-Musawwir, please heal me, etc.

Anyway, it's late and this mish-mash of a comment has gone on for far too long!

In the end, Allah knows best. I pray He grants us proximity to Him in this life and the next, Ameen.

Wa'salam

Farzeen said...

Assalaamu'alaykum wa rahmatu Allah dear sister

There's a book called "Patience and Gratitude" by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah. The first chapter defines patience. I'll type up some of it. It should answer your questions, insha'Allah.

The Definition of Patience

Sabr is an Arabic word which comes from a root meaning to detain, refrain, and stop. There is an expression in Arabic, "so-and-so was killed sabran," which means that he was captured and detained until he died. In the spiritual sense, patience means to stop ourselves from despairing and panicking, to stop our tongues from complaining, and to stop our hands from striking our faces and tearing our clothes at times of grief and stress.

What Scholars Have Said About Patience

Some scholars have defined patience as a good human characteristic or a positive psychological attitude, by virtue of which we refrain from doing that which is not good. Human beings cannot live a proper, healthy life without patience.

Abu 'Uthman said, "The one who has patience is the one who has trained himself to handle difficulties." 'Amr ibn 'Uthman al-Makki said, "Patience means to keep close to Allah and to accept calmly the trials He sends, without complaining or feeling sad." Al-Khawwas said, "Patience means to adhere to the rules of the Qur'an and Sunnah." Another scholar said, "Patience means to refrain from complaining." 'Ali ibn Abi Talib said, "Patience means to seek Allah's help."

Further Definition of Patience

A scholar said: "To have patience means that one's common sense and religious motives are stronger than one's whims and desires."

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He goes on to say that patience has different names given the situation, i.e. restraining anger is forbearance, keeping quiet about what is not fit to disclose is called discretion, etc.
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Is it Possible to Obtain the Quality of Patience?

If a person does not naturally posses the characteristic of patience, he can attain this characteristic by acting as if he does possess it, until it eventually becomes second nature. This is what the Prophet (salAllahu 'alayhi wa salam) has told us in the hadith: "Whoever tries to be patience, then Allah will help him to be patient."

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The book then continues with an in-depth analysis of patience. He does say at one point that it is not natural for us to feel indifference during times of difficulties and ease; but during hardship/difficulties, we need to refrain from panicking.
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Imam Abdullah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad writes in his book "Good Manners:"
You now know that it is but patience to stay away from sins and lustful desires and to keep to acts of obedience that makes you reach everything that is good, every noble station, and every lofty state.
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SubhanAllah!

I personally believe that patience is intimately connected to gratitude, wa Allahu'alim.

I hope that at least provides you with some food for thought and is of benefit, insha'Allah.

(Forgive any typos please.)

ravenous said...

Assalaamu alaykum,

Sister Farzeen, thanks for that really beneficial excerpt. As Allah reminds us in the Quran, ask the people of ilm, if you do not know.

In my experience I have found that as a practical matter, whenever I felt like I really couldn't take it anymore, I would stay quiet just a little longer and then a little longer, until days passed into weeks, passed into months.

It also helps to identify people in our lives who will counsel us to patience. As we know from the Quran, those who attain success are those who strive to do good, and counsel their brothers and sisters to patience. That way, whenever we do feel like blowing our tops, we can go to them, and we can trust them to talk us through our frustration and anger, instead of fueling it.

Molly said...

Mouse, this is my favorite post of yours. I am going to meditate on it a while.

shaz said...

totally unrelated... I LOVE the banner!! very cool! :)

AnonyMouse said...

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barkaatu,

Sister Farzeen, jazaakillaahi khairan a million times over! What you quoted is *exactly* the answer I was looking for!!! Al-Hamdulillaah!!!

Sister Shaz - haha, shukran! Direct all credit to iMuslim, though... she's the one who designed it! :)

Umm Reem said...

Salaam,

Okay, so now that I'm in the blog world myself, I can't help but browsing around!

This is an interesting post. What I learned (and I will have to open my notes to quote the name of the shaikh who said it etc.) a quick recall of my notes:

Patience is of 3 types:

1. Patience in natural phenomenons, like death, poverty, illness or any catastrophe. Proof (Luqman: 17)
And the example of Prophet Muhammad (saw) when his son Ibraheem passed away, although he cried but he didn't complain.

2. Higher level of patience, is to be patient in abstaining from sins.
(ra'ad: 24)

3. To be patient in constantly worshipping Allah (swt)
(Maryam: 5)
(Taha: 132)

As for the first one, ie to be patient in natural calamaties, it has to be done at the heat of the moment. Meaning, it cannot happen that a person complains and wails and then later on says, 'now i will be patient'. The true patience is at the first instance!

wAllahu ta'ala 'alam